Monday, February 28, 2011

Review @ Book Binge

I've got a review up over at Book Binge. This one pushed lots of my buttons, unfortunately, since it's an author I normally really enjoy.

Go check it out!

The Spy Who Loved Her by Melissa Schroeder

Lady Anna was once considered the catch of the season. Now, three years after she fell for a man who tried to murder her cousin, she eases her guilt with charity work at an orphanage. Until her mother insists she do her duty.

Attending her cousin’s ball is irritating enough. It’s her one dance with Daniel, the unscrupulous Earl of Bridgerton, that rubs her nerves raw. And oddly leaves her senses on the edge of arousal.

The ton sees Daniel as a scoundrel. In truth, like centuries of Bridgertons before him, he leads a vast network of spies, protecting England from her worst enemies. His resolve never to marry means the one woman he’s always wanted—Lady Anna—is off limits. Especially now that his father’s murderer is coming after him as well.

At first, Anna wonders if Daniel was put on this earth just to annoy her. It’s only when she finds him injured that his mask begins to fall away—and so do the barriers between them. But their flaring passion puts her right where Daniel didn’t want her. Next on a killer’s list.


Thank you to Melissa Schroeder for supplying an ARC for this book. I've been bugging her for it since the last book was released. I so adored The Accidental Countess and Lessons in Seduction. I was so happy to finally read Anna and Daniel's story. It was a long damn wait. The danced around each other a whole lot in the first two books, and when I finished Lessons in Seduction, my first question was, "OMG, when do we get Daniel and Anna?!"

Anna has done a lot of growing up since book 2, and has resigned herself that she won't ever marry. She is working at and supporting an orphanage, much to the chagrin of her brother, Sebastian (hero of book 1). He has resigned himself to it, and instead of forbidding it, assigns servants to watch over her. So Anna has become quite independent, although it all stems from guilt over her part in her cousin Cecily's attack a few years back. (read Lessons in Seduction for that story)

Daniel was an interesting character to me. His family is a group of spies, including his mother and aunt. So these women are quite independent and self-sufficient. Yet, he becomes very chauvinistic when it comes to allowing Anna to do her charitable work in the orphanage, saying basically that women shouldn't be doing that sort of work, it's in a dangerous part of town, and that she should be dancing in a ballroom and looking pretty with no worries. (paraphrasing, but that's the gist of it). So I thought that was an interesting dichotomy. And wondered how he reconciled that within himself, although it came across as a gut reaction, Daniel just trying to protect Anna and keep her from harm.

Watching Daniel try to manage Anna was pretty amusing. He just couldn't fathom why she would want to go out and work in the orphanage rather than simply donate her money. She, in turn, insisted on maintaining her independence. He had to slowly come around, while at the same time trying to solve the mystery of who killed his father and was now threatening him. I loved watching Daniel and Anna try to deny their feelings, while at the same time acknowledging the crazy feelings swirling inside.

I really enjoyed the character of Joanna, Daniel's aunt by marriage, with whom everyone assumes he had an affair. In truth, they are very close, but just family. I thought it realistic how Anna didn't believe this at first but slowly came around to it, and just couldn't help liking Joanna.

I did guess the whodunnit very early on, but it didn't impede my enjoyment of the journey at all. I loved reading about Daniel's spy family (unlikely as it was), and revisiting the couples from the previous 2 books.

While I would say that this could be read as a stand-alone, it makes much more sense if you read it as a part of the series. And if you have read the series, I recommend a reread of at least book 2 before hopping into this one. I had some memory refreshing to do.

I'm hopeful that Joanna, Daniel's widowed aunt, will get her own story next.

4.5/5 stars on Goodreads

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Maybe This Time by Kathryn Shay

MAYBE THIS TIME features Delaney Dawson, a good teacher who has just been transferred to the high school. Her lessons are innovative, she participates in school activities and her students love her. But when she hooks up with the Gage Grayson, the father of a girl she has in class, a myriad of problems occur. First, the two adults didn’t know of their connection through Stephanie. And Stephanie hates her father, which jeopardizes the troubled teen’s burgeoning relationship with her teacher. But when they learn that Steph is being lured in by a bad crowd with a proclivity towards school violence, all three must work together to prevent deadly consequences.

Last one for a while, I think. This is the 3rd and final book in The Educators series.

Yet again, Shay confronts a tough issue, with a teenager totally disengaging from society, her parents, and her school. She gets involved with a crowd of girls with a vendetta against a teacher, and has to decide how to handle it.

Stephanie's favorite teacher, Delaney, met her dad on a trip to Atlanta, although they each didn't know who the other was. After an amazing one night stand, they exchanged info, still only using first names. They couldn't wait to carry forward. Imagine their surprise when they met at a conference in the principal's office about Gage's daughter Stephanie. Once they realized their relationship to the other, they knew they couldn't continue the relationship.

As Gage and Delaney try to keep their one night stand secret, they cannot deny the growing feelings between them as they try to do the right and ethical thing for all involved.

Meanwhile, as Stephanie tries to deal with her hurt feelings stemming from a mentally ill and therefore seemingly uncaring mother, her perceived disciplinarian father, and her parent's divorce, she has to decide whether to accept her dad's overtures of love and healing while also trying to decide if she should tell an adult what she has learned about her schoolmates, and what they have forced her to participate in.

Shay addresses teacher/parent relationships, school violence, and, teenage disenfranchisement in this short novel, and as always does it with grace and spot-on characterization. As a parent of high-schooler, this series has made me sit up and thank the heavens for my two happy, healthy, well-adjusted children.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Someone Like You by Kathryn Shay

Teacher Brie Gorman and Coach Nick Corelli have been at odds for years. She never liked the sexy jock himself, and hates how the school tends to coddle athletes. But when one of Brie's students, the star quarterback of the football team, goes into a downward spiral, she and Nick must work together to help him. Unexpectedly, a fiery passion they can't ignore erupts between them, even when they clash over the best way to save the boy's life.

I liked this book, but not quite as much as the first, Still The One. I think that has more to do with me connecting better with the h/h of the first book, although Brie and Nick are both likeable. As always, there are hot issues of the day to address; in this book it is the son of the mayor. He's the star football player, but so desperately unhappy following the death of his mother and he has no outlet for all that pain and anger. He's also a cutter.

Nick was the best friend of Brie's husband. He passed away, leaving her heartbroken. Nick and Brie never really got along, even while Jared was still alive. They disagreed on a lot of things, one of which  was how to deal with Matt. Nick is trying to do his best for Matt on the down low, while Brie thinks that it should be reported so that Matt can get more help and have everything documented.

Through their interactions with Matt, Brie and Nick come to realize there is a huge attraction between them. Brie learns to like Nick. A lot. And what's not to like? He is handsome, smart, thoughtful, and really, truly wants to do the best he can for his students.

I thought Brie came across as a bit abrasive, but not unlikable. She jumped to conclusions and acted sometimes without thinking of the consequences. Having said that, she learns through the course of the book that her way may not always be the best way, and really comes to appreciate Nick for who he is.

I thought the love story happened a little quickly, but there was a long history between Brie and Nick, so although there was the 'getting to know the real you' issue, they already were well acquainted and both in a position to have a new start to their relationship.

The story surrounding Matt is heartbreaking; one I'm sure is not unique at all. (in fact, I know it's not - students like Matt are the ones my husband teaches every day) His father ignores him, speaking to him only to criticize or to talk about football. He's stuck playing a sport he doesn't even want to play, and he's tied in knots trying to come to terms with his mother's death.

Matt's father almost made the transition into sympathetic, but fell short. He comes across as a hard, unforgiving man, unable and unwilling to connect with his son because he represents a loss he doesn't want to think about.

As with the last book, there was only one plausible way that the resolution to Matt's situation could happen, and it was because he turned 18, and was able to make some decisions for himself.

I really like these books because they also give a look into the other side of education - what goes on in the teacher's lounge, in the principal's office, and in general, the politics that go along with working in education. 

Another solid read from Shay. Really looking forward to the next book, which I just got my hands on.

If you missed them, there's a review of Still the One and an interview with Shay as well.

Interview: Kathryn Shay

OK, so I make no bones about the fact that I'm a Kathryn Shay fangirl. She writes deep, insightful romance with characters that always touch me deeply. Her books have made my Best of the Year and almost never fail to make my gut clench at some point in the reading.(Best of the Year: The Perfect Family and Trust in Me.)

She has a new series out called The Educators, written about a group of teachers and administrators in a small town, which I'm loving. And she just released a whole host of her backlist. Both of these things, she's self-publishing - a trend that has been fascinating to me as I see more and more of the authors that I read dip their toes into it. Please welcome Kathryn Shay:

IJFR: Your books are always more than what one would expect. By that, I mean that you always take on some issue that forces a deeper look, whether it’s a societal taboo or a hot topic of the day. Do you approach the books with the message in mind already that you want to speak about, or does it evolve for you as the book goes on?

KS: Great question that gave me pause. I’d have to say that I mostly know what “issues” I want to deal with before I start a book. For instance, in my firefighter series, I knew I wanted to show the real lives of today’s firefighters. I wanted to show how their jobs affect their personality, or vice versa. Once I get into the book, though, I discover other things about the character and themes. For example, I knew I wanted NOTHING MORE TO LOSE to be about a man who lost the use of his legs in 9/11 but I didn’t know he’d be lured back into firefighting by teaching at the fire academy and in the process find meaning in his life again. In PROMISES TO KEEP, I knew the book would be about Secret Service agents going under cover in a modern high school to ferret out potential violence, but I didn’t know the dynamics of the students, that one of the heroes would have such a tortured background, that the younger agent would fall for his “teacher.” In the end, I’d say yes, I probably know the issue, but not how it will work out.

IJFR: I thought The Perfect Family was a fantastic, realistic, painful, and uplifting story of family dynamics when a teen comes out about his homosexuality. What inspired you to write a book like this, so different from your traditional romances?

KS: As most people know by now, I have a gay son. When Ben came out, my family went through some life changes. Since I had a writing background, I thought, “Oh, I could write a book about this.” The story is not autobiographical, but it has some elements of what happened to us in it. What I’m saying is I knew I could do a good job with this kind of story. (It had all the earmarks of a Kathryn Shay book.) When I was finished, I realized that I wished I had a book like THE PERFECT FAMILY to read when my son came out. That might sound arrogant, but no one told me about the ambushes that might occur—a problem at school crops up unexpectedly, a neighbor reacts badly, people pull through that you don’t expect to, and the constant worry about your child. Of course, things get better after a while, having a gay child becomes a fact of life, as I say in the book, but initially, I had no idea what to expect—a lot like Maggie and Mike in the story.

And I very much enjoyed going out of my genre and expect to do so again. There is romance in the book, but the novel is more in the women’s fiction and young adult genre, so I’ve been working in the vein a bit, too.

IJFR: Tell us about your new Educators series.

KS: I love stories about high school teachers and kids, and most that I read don’t quite capture the feel of the building, the interaction between adults and students, the real way kids behave. So since I had my backlist up already, I thought, “Well, this would be fun. I’ll write school stories and see how new work does.” (It’s doing well, btw.)

The premise is another one of those issues we talked about above—troubled teens are helped (or hindered) by the teachers they have in school, or by their parents at home. I like creating kids who need adults to care, mostly because I always believed that was my role as a teacher. I also had teachers when I was in high school who helped me with a pretty dysfunctional home life. So I know the need for good teachers from both ends. And I’m VERY tired of people criticizing teachers for their time off, or their short day or for tenure. I found teaching to be one of the most exhausting things I’ve ever done in my life, physically, psychologically and emotionally. The average person doesn’t really know how a good teacher (and I emphasize good) invests everything in her job and her kids.

IJFR: Why did you choose to move away from your traditional publishers in order to tell both The Perfect Family and The Educators series?

KS: This is a very complicated issue for me. First let me say, I’d like to go back to a major house at some time, but for now, what I’ve done is working for me. I published THE PERFECT FAMILY with Bold Strokes Books because they’re primarily an LGBT press and I believed the story would get the treatment it deserved. I was right. But another factor was that my agent at the time didn’t really “like” the last version. (This was after working on it together for five years, in between other contracts.) So we parted ways, at my initiation, and instead of going through the process of getting another agent or seeking out a bigger press, I decided to go with my heart--and Bold Strokes. It was a good decision!

As for the other houses, I left Harlequin in 2010 because of artistic differences. I felt bad about it because they were my first publisher, but the line I wrote for was going in a different direction, a place I didn’t want to go, nor do I think I could have gone. So we parted ways amicably. But I’d write for the company in a second if I could write how and what I wanted, as I’d done for 15 years. At this point in my career, after 40 books, I want to choose my stories carefully and tell them as I see fit and I can do that online. Again, I’m thinking hard about women’s fiction, and have a book that I wrote after the HQ breakup that I’m going to self-pub which is in that genre. And I’m thinking about getting another agent.

IJFR: You recently gained rights to your backlist, and decided to rerelease them all yourself rather than through your traditional publishing house. Why?

KS: Well, that’s an easy answer. Money. I’m making over two dollars per book and selling hundreds. I’m not sure a print version of my backlist could compete.

IJFR: What’s coming next that we should be looking for?

KS: More backlist books, since I’m getting rights back for early Harlequins. Second, I have two women’s fiction stories that I haven’t sold to print publishers yet (one is mentioned above). I love both of them and want readers to see them, too. And—back by popular demand because I get requests for this every day—I’m writing about firefighters again. [ETA: Squee!!!!]  This time I thought I’d try 6 short stories (around 12K words each) about other fire fighters at the Hidden Cove Fire Department, with cameos of those who appeared in the Berkley firefighter trilogy. I expect it will be a month or so before I finish. Meanwhile, look for the two new bigger books and my backlist from Harlequin.

Thanks a lot for letting me share my work and ideas with readers. I appreciate the time and effort you put into this.

Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your thoughts with us!

You can buy her latest releases here:
The Perfect Family: Amazon (paper/Kindle), Bold Strokes (ebook/print)
Still the One (book 1 in The Educators): Kindle/Smashwords
Someone Like You (book 2 in The Educators): Kindle/Smashwords
Maybe This Time (book 3 in The Educators): Kindle/Smashwords

Still the One by Kathryn Shay

Annie Jacobs has made something of herself after a rough adolescence. She’s the mother of twin boys, a respected and well-liked English teacher and has good friends. But when her former high school teacher, Dylan Kane, comes back to town, Annie’s carefully created world starts to crumble. She and Dylan have a past, one which almost destroyed her. Now, he wants to be the next principal of her school. Annie’s afraid their previous relationship will endanger the job she loves. She’s even more fearful that her feelings for Dylan will rekindle, or worse, never died.

At the root of this book is a very controversial idea - a high school student and teacher falling in love. And while many (including myself) view this as completely taboo, I can appreciate that most teachers are in their early to mid twenties when they start, and high school kids can be 18. That's not a huge age difference. (In a TMI aside, I became great friends w/ a new teacher at my high school in my senior year, and he was HOT. He wasn't my teacher, and I definitely wouldn't have minded something happening, although it never did. As far as I know, it was completely one-sided on my part).

Annie was an 18 year old senior when she fell in love with her English teacher, 24 year old Dylan. He returned the emotion, but refused to act on it. When Annie pushed him to act, he left his job and moved away in order to keep his integrity intact. The story takes place 20 years later, when they meet again. Dylan is interviewing for the high school principal position, and Annie is now the English teacher. Dylan is unaware of what his leaving did to Annie, and she is too scared to take the risk of loving him again, having lost him once, and having lost her husband in Iraq. Plus, she has twin 8 year old sons to look after.

Kathryn Shay never shies away from tough or controversial subject matter. I thought all the issues in this book were handled with care, and ably so. She made both characters immensely appealing, so I was really rooting for them to make it work. It was as difficult for the reader to find a way out of their predicament as it was for Annie and Dylan. But Shay comes up with the perfect (and only, IMO) solution available to them.

The only things that keep this from being a 5 star read for me are the overtly jealous and almost evil former classmate of Annie's, and wondering why Annie was so adamant about staying in a town where she was faced with such animosity from some folks. I think had the book been a little longer, this may have been addressed, but a revelation on why it was so important to her would have helped me to understand.

Plus, there is that uncomfortable feeling of reading about a taboo subject and finding yourself feeling ok about it. That was very strange. It was only that Dylan refused to acknowledge his feelings for Annie to her back in the day and left town in order to keep from acting on those feelings that give credibility to the plot. It was handled in about the only way Shay could have to make it acceptable. And she does, amazingly.

Shay is self-publishing this series via Smashwords. I gave this book 4.5/5 stars on Goodreads.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Turn it Up: Turner Twins Book 2 by Vivian Arend

She wants it. He’s got it…and a whole lot more.

Maxwell Turner considers his stubborn and resourceful attitude a plus. After all, it usually gets him what he wants—except for Natasha Bellingham. The long-time family friend may be ten years older than he, but so what? He’s plenty old enough to know they belong together. Now all he has to do is convince her.

Over the past few years Natasha’s love life has degenerated into a series of bad clichés. Her biological clock is ticking—loudly. As a proven architect with her own house-design company, she’s financially ready for a baby. Who says she needs a permanent man in her life for that? She just needs a “donation”.

When Max discovers Natasha’s future plans include artificial insemination, he’s outraged. She wants to get pregnant? No problem. He’s more than willing to volunteer—no turkey basters involved.

But there’s one non-negotiable clause: He wants forever. And he intends to do everything in his power—fair and unfair—to make it happen.


Older woman/younger man is one of my least favorite tropes. In general, I hate it with a thousand passions. Because the woman is always freaking out about how the man is too young for her. Ugh.

So, worried as I was, I was thrilled to see that that wasn't the case with Turn It Up. Tasha had issues, oh yes she did, but they stemmed from abandonment issues rather than age issues. And it thrilled me to see that she consciously tried to open herself up to Max. Usually the women are trying to come up with excuses to keep themselves closed off, and while she did a tiny bit of that, more often she was convincing herself to let him in, to open up, to experience life with him.

And Max. Ahhh, what a gem he was. Smart, funny, workaholic but willing to make time for his woman, and hot. Believe me, he had to be super hot if I could overcome the name Max. Totally committed to Tasha and their baby and their life together. And so patient, too.

If you've ever been pregnant, you appreciate the accuracy of the descriptions and feelings of being pregnant described. The push and pull of a schizophrenic sex drive - there one minute and soooo not there the next. Of nesting. Of awkward positions in sex. And I loved the scene where they had the ultrasound, and while wanting so badly to share the warm fuzzies with Max, Tasha simply said hang on and ran off to pee.

To me, it was very odd that this book came 2nd in the series, as it takes place before book 1 and also serves to put Maxy's (max's sister - don't ask) innocence and situation into some perspective. Still, if I hadn't read book 1 first, I never would have had any issues. I highly recommend reading these two books out of order. I liked them both, but this one especially.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February at half-time...

What She Needs by Anne Calhoun
This was a WOW read for me. Tightly written--really, the writing was flawless. Flawless like Megan Hart flawless. Written with an economy that only heightened its emotion. Intense. Palpable. It was also very clever--the reveal packed a punch--despite the well-placed clues and even despite the fact that this is an extremely popular storyline in erotic romance. I absolutely loved this book.

Under His Hand by Anne Calhoun
And this title was the reason I purchased What She Needs. Blogger buzz for Under His Hand hooked me and when I went to purchase it, I grabbed What She Needs too. Read that one, absolutely loved it. Under His Hand was a huge disappointment by comparison. The premise, its characters, the emotional ride. All there. Except, I think they forgot to edit this one. Typos throughout and no where near the economy of the first. I had to wade through run-ons--sentences and internal thoughts/backstory--and step over typos. Seriously, it was as if this entire manuscript had not been edited. So disappointing.

Lessons From A Scarlet Lady by Emma Wildes
All three of my historical reads this month (so far) featured less-than-alpha heroes. Not a bad thing, mind you. Just noticeable coming off a month that featured Stephanie Laurens, LOL. In this one, I have to say I enjoyed watching the heroine undo her man. He wasn't the brightest bulb, but he was honorable enough. Their humor was more of the dork variety--no witty (read knowing) sarcasms here--just fun at the expense of their collective naivete. The secondary storyline was equally entertaining and the sequel baiting effective (I'm thinking the third brother may be significantly smarter than these two.)

Proof By Seduction by Courtney Milan
It might not be fair to call Gareth "less-than-alpha." He was dark, intense--extremely alpha I suppose, if you consider how tightly controlled his demeanor and actions. A powerful read (thinking back on it now). Words fail me, but yes, one of best I've read in awhile.

Prelude To A Scandal by Delilah Marvelle
I adore the covers Marvelle received for this series. Just gorgeous. I didn't much adore this first installment though. Read it completely through and remained unconvinced the entire way. I didn't buy his "addiction." Didn't appreciate the startling dark stuff (without the seriousness in character to support it). And I didn't care for the handling of same-sex relationships because, again, it lacked the seriousness it deserved in this setting. I dunno, maybe Marvelle was actually going for a dark, serious telling. If she was, her efforts were completely undermined by her H/H. Radcliff was embarrassingly dramatic--a blazing idiot--and Justine was as naive as they come.

Call Me Irristible by SEP
I wish I could remember how to write a full-fledged review, cuz this one deserves it. In true SEP fashion, Call Me Irristible features a down-trodden heroine and a hero intent on humiliating her until low and behold, they fall madly for one another. And as with every other SEP title in recent memory, I was slow to accept the premise, but unable to turn away. In the end, I fell hard for Teddy and Meg. And I was reminded of how clever SEP really is. We cheer for Meg because unlike everyone else, she knows Teddy. At least we think she knows him. Right up until SEP clobbers us all with Teddy's point of view. By which time it's too late. Because we're all in love and hurting. Every moment worth it, because that last scene? Sigh-worthy. Really, really sigh-worthy. I re-read those last three pages again and again. Almost didn't want to give the book back to my library.

There was also plenty of the absurd and just the right amount of the past in this one. I don't think I'll ever recapture the magic of Kiss An Angel, but I know I can keep counting on SEP to deliver that falling-in-love sensation--warts and all.

Tongue In Chic by Christina Dodd
Thinking about starting a "retro" challenge. Granted, this title is only 5 years old, but it felt long lost to me. Probably because my blog reader yields dozens of new must-reads every month. Going back 5 years feels like quite a stretch. At any rate, I'm really enjoying Dodd's older contemporaries. This one was fun and sexy. A light, quick read with good humor and a not-too-overwhelming suspense line. I'm going for Thigh High next and am also browsing Rachel Gibson's backlist. Quirky and sexy is my favorite flavor right now.

Beyond The Night by Joss Ware
Blogger buzz put this series on my TBR list quite some time ago. Unfortunately, I'm not so thrilled by sci-fi or urban or whatever this particular setting is called. It was so bleak. And disturbing. I read it through--appreciating Ware's voice and characterization very much. I just don't think I'll go on in the series given the impact their hopelessness has on the HEA.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

January re-cap - Jennifer

Haven't mentioned it here yet, but I'm officially OUTTA the 8 to 5 grind, laid off again. Nervous about the no paycheck thing, yes. But happy to be the only boss of me again. And WOW am I reading more. In 2010, I didn't read 50 books. In 2011, I've already read 18 books.

Here is a recap of January's reads:

What A Rogue Desires by Caroline Linden
I am literally years behind on some of the trilogies, series, etc. I wanted to finish or catch up. Linden's follow up to What A Gentleman Wants is one I've had on my list forever. So glad I didn't just move on. I really enjoyed the relationship between David and Vivian--forged while he holds her imprisoned in his home. And I was pleasantly reminded of how much I like Linden's voice. Not a word wasted. Drawing us helplessly into the romance while all the while subjecting us to the tension wrought by their circumstances. I love survivor heroines, less than perfect heroes and impossible odds. Even more so when the author uses humor--that dry, dry wit--to make it all more bearable.

The Other Side (Antho), specifically J.D. Robb's Possession In Death
Really, really good one. Highlight? When Roarke points out the tatoo to Eve. Priceless.

A Lady Of Persuasion by Tessa Dare
Finished up this trilogy and am very happy to add Dare to my list of go-to authors. I particularly like Dare's heroes--commanding men really, once you get beyond their good intentions and hilarious humor.

Shoulda Been A Cowboy by Lorelei James
Jumped into this series out of order, but enjoyed myself anyway. Loved Cam--every single thing about him.

Skin Tight by Ava Gray
Catch-up mode again. Unfortunately, I didn't love this one as much as I did Skin Game. It was tightly-written and Gray's characters were pretty unapologetic--which I like. But I was less sure of the plotline (the evil scientific experiments stuff) and the heroine's role overall. Those pieces didn't fit as seamlessly as I wanted. It was almost as if the characters came together again and then just lingered, not doing much of anything to propel the story forward. Dunno. I was captivated here and there--it just didn't grip like the first book. Not giving up on this series though--that first book was just too good.

Precious And Fragile Things by Megan Hart
Compelling. Extraordinary. Almost didn't read this one because the idea of being torn from my child is not one I can stomach. I turned the first page however and was instantly immersed. And while I couldn't relate to this woman (as much as I feared or hoped), I could see life through her eyes. It felt a very honest telling of a hard-to-hear story. One I would recommend to anyone.

Captain Jack's Woman by Stephanie Laurens
In addition to catching up on my TBR list, I also organized my walk-in--where my actual TBR pile lives. Too many books in there, LOL. Don't know why I grabbed this one, but I did and enjoyed myself very much. So much that I promptly reviewed my reading logs, determined where I'd left off on her Bastion Club books and got to catching up.

Mastered By Love by Stephanie Laurens
There. All caught up on this series. When the urge strikes, I can now move on to Laurens new bride series.

Breathless by Anne Stuart
Too much. In the end, Stuart's typically dark hero goes too far, subjecting the heroine to just too much, violating her in a way I thought unforgivable. She had me right up until that point--very near the end of the book. I finished it, despite my unease, and can honestly say that if it weren't for that single disturbing scene, that one step too far, the book could have been a great read. As it was, that scene turned everything--sharply--and the HEA never recovered. Unfortunate given how much I enjoyed Ruthless (the first in this trilogy).

Last Night's Scandal by Loretta Chase
I think Chase may be on my historical podium, right up there with Joanna Bourne and Jo Goodman. I laughed my way through this one and fell in love with both of these crazy kids.

Hot Pursuit by Christina Skye
DNF'd this one. Couldn't figure out why this woman involved herself to this degree in the life of her beyond-stupid, rock-climbing instructor/neighbor. I hung in to the halfway point before donating this one to my library.

Right Here, Right Now by HelenKay Dimon
Also in my TBR pile. Lots and lots and lots and lots of banter in this one. A light, fun read.

Almost Like Being In Love by Christina Dodd
The fourth! book out of my TBR pile in one month--that space is getting downright tidy. And wow, this book packed a punch. It has this light, airy cover that made me think light, airy love story. Not so. The hero is Special Forces and the heroine is on the run from a ruthless killer. And this couple has a dark past together. Sexy, intense stuff. I enjoyed having a book at hand that I couldn't wait to get back to every night--after dinner, bath, bedtime, etc. Now that's why I read romance, LOL.

What She Wants by Anne Rainey
A blogger rec I think and a pretty good read. Short but solid.


Screwed around with book cover images until I was good and fed up. Next time, promise.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

This is me

Check out this pic of the States taken by NASA from space.

Stay safe, everyone!! It's crazy out there!
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